(NOTE: This is a guest post by proxoy. Dianne Ascroft lives in Ireland, but this is her newest published story, reviewed by Jackie Houchin)
(Dianne Ascroft’s Cozy Mystery Short Story is part of the Deadly Traditions: A Cozy Mystery Christmas Anthology, by & 8 more See the other stories and authors at the end of this review.)
Mistletoe and Murder revisits the small Canadian town of Fenwater, where Ascroft’s series protagonist, Lois lives – wooed there from the big city by her friend Marge, after her husband of many years died. Lois is settling in quite well, meeting friends and neighbors, especially in the town Marketplace, where various crafters sell their ware. She now has a “sweetheart” as well.
But this story is mainly from the point-of-view of vivacious, Marge, plump and pretty, (and now also single). At the town’s Christmas party, Marge can’t seem to avoid the hanging mistletoe, and the hard-to-get-rid-of ex-boyfriend, Mike, as he continues to grab her up in squishy bear hugs and slobbery smooches at every opportunity. She runs to her friend Lois (and Bruce) for help, but Mike follows her! Even with the appearance of a woman who just recently broke off with Mike, Marge can’t avoid the man. It’s only after he’s gotten another spiked egg-nog and acts drunk… and then falls down dead, that she is free. But oh, what a horrible solution!
Over the next few days, Marge frantically tries to find who slipped Mike that (—) that was the key to his death. Lois helps as she can, but mostly just supports her friend. It’s during a Christmas hayride a few nights later that the case comes to a head – Marge’s head – and the solution appears.
Dianne Ascroft’s stories are gentle and fun – cozies as they are described. It may be easier to discover the mystery before the end, but you never know. She might just give the story a tweak. I enjoyed Mistletoe and Murder, and if it is a sample of the others, I know you will enjoy them all.
The whole list:
Larceny and Gingerbread Lattes – Justine Maxwell
Killing the Carol – Sam Cheever
O Deadly Night – Estelle Richards
Silent Snickerdoodle – Ellie Ballard
Santa Claus Is Not Coming To Town – Sage So
Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas – Gayle Leeson
A Pickle in a Pear Tree – Erin Scoggins
Mrs Claus Saves Christmas – Wendy H. Jones
A Christmas Dinner to Die For – Sheena Macleod
Christmas Card and Feathered – Mollie Cox Bryan
A Little Christmas Villainy – Melicity Pope
Mistletoe and Murder – Dianne Ascroft